SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Gould, Rebecca Ruth (2016) 'Violence as Recognition, Recognition as Violence.' In: Gould, Rebecca Ruth, (ed.), Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus. New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 202-230. (Eurasia past and present)

Full text not available from this repository.


This chapter examines transgressive sanctity's most recent iteration in wartime Chechnya. It focuses on local memories of Chechnya's first female suicide bombing in 2001. As it excavates the spaces of political life that remain unclarified by analyses grounded in the state, it draws on anthropological reflections on suicide bombing as a practice that aims at earthly immortality by Talal Asad and other theorists of secular modernity. It also explores how suicide bombing converges with and diverges from Hannah Arendt's reading of political life in antiquity as a striving for freedom from coercion. Even as it documents the post-Soviet recourse to violence in order to achieve recognition, the chapter seeks to reframe the anthropological concept of resistance. While much has been published concerning Chechen defiance of Russian rule, little has been written about the creative strategizing within coercive political systems that in Arabic is called ṣumīd (steadfastness) and yet permeates everyday life in the Caucasus. Ultimately, it is argued that the shift in the discourse of transgressive sanctity from text to image, and literature to mass media, to which the suicide bomber attests, harbingers this ideology's degeneration. In late post-Soviet modernity, violence has become aestheticized to the point of relinquishing its former power. At such a juncture, the state gains in power, because it is able to deploy force without being dependent on violence's aesthetic power.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Keywords: Chechnya, transgressive sanctity, suicide bombing, Talal Asad, Hannah Arendt, secular modernity, violence
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics
ISBN: 9780300200645
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2023 15:44

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item